STORYTELLING FOR STARTUPS

Book Cover Amazon

Storytelling has quickly emerged as one of the hottest marketing buzzwords.

As someone who spent 15 years spinning tales on broadcast television, I welcome the hype. Five years ago I set out to use storytelling techniques to help corporate clients craft their message. It felt novel back then. Stories offered a way to cut through all that marketing noise.

Mark Evans’ Storytelling for Startups is a “how to” guide for founders and other start-up executives on how to create stories that pave a path to success.

A former technology reporter for The Financial Post, Evans delivers the goods in a refreshingly straightforward manner, without any needless hype. The book evolved out of his experience in helping dozens of startups acquire the skills needed to engage investors and customers in today’s rich media environment.

According to Evans, “Storytelling is more important than ever. Companies that tell great stories, win. Company’s that don’t, lose.” In addition to drawing from his personal experience as a consultant, Evans highlights the best storytelling practices from Steve Jobs, Dropbox, MailChimp and numerous other case studies.

Evans doesn’t sugarcoat the process. He asks the tough questions right off the bat: “Why does your organization exist?“ Admittedly, this self-examination is often difficult, time consuming, and rarely unanimous. But agreeing on an internal story is necessary before one can share it with the world. Evans spends a considerable amount of time discussing ways in which startups can land on a message that resonates.

Honesty is also paramount when discussing potential outcomes. “For storytelling to work, there has to be a well defined plan with clear goals – be it brand awareness, media coverage, website traffic, partnership, leads or sales.”

Evans steers clear of prescribing one-size fits all solutions. He intelligently guides the reader through a maze of platforms – old media, social media, video, web, email, blogs, infographics – you name it, the book has a chapter on it.

Evans reminds the reader to never lose sight of their audience. “Effective storytelling happens by having insights into your audience. What stories do they like to hear?” Companies tell the story, but the story is always about their customers. Their needs. Their feelings. Why else would the customer care? The book also offers different methods to measure audience engagement and includes a useful list of online tools specializing in analytics.

Unlike some marketing gurus, Evans is very much a realist. He understands startups cannot possibly master all of the platforms available to them. It’s one thing to embrace storytelling. It’s another thing to find one’s voice and hit it out of the park. Success will definitely require practice. This book is a great way to get started.

Marco Bresba is a branding, storytelling and social media strategist. Espresso Capital is one of his clients. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.